Apple Cider Doughnut Cake + 5 Unique Fall Desserts

 

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Hail Mary, full of grace.  Hail Mary, full of grace.  Hail… 

Hazel rubs her rosary beads between her thumb and index finger, gently at first and then harder, much harder as if the act in itself will make her recall the prayer she has known since she was a child.  Russell, can you believe this?  She says to no one.  Oh Russell, when I need you the most…you disappointment me Russell.  She calls to the air.  She calls to the dust particles floating in the stale air, and the old cat riddled with tumors, purring near her feet.  She sets her rosary beads next to her mother’s bible which rests on a black marbled, plastic folding table circa 1970.  Water rings mark the table where Hazel’s nightly whiskey on ice with a splash of water once sat.  Hazel reaches for her walker and slowly pulls it towards her, clipping the cat’s tail.  The cat doesn’t seem to mind her carelessness, stares up at her lovingly, and quickly falls back asleep.

Hazel’s body is now turning against her, every step is a chance and yet she makes her way into the kitchen.  Just as determined now, as she was playing basketball many decades ago. Hazel stands at the counter hoping her knees won’t buckle or her legs betray her before she gets a chance to smell the apple cake her daughter left behind.  A peace-offering, a gesture of love, whatever her daughter tells herself to rationalize making decisions about Hazel’s life without much input from Hazel.

She inhales the cake deeply allowing the cinnamon, nutmeg and baked apples to fill her where she feels empty.  Hazels thinks of a fork.  Fork to cake, cake to mouth.  Chew.  Swallow.  Easy enough, and yet, Hazel’s hand fails to make the connection to the fork.  She plunges her long, skeletal finger into the cake.  It feels good being inside that cake, a bit of a relief having part of her body encased in something else.  Hazel pulls her finger out, grabs a chunk cake with her arthritic right hand, and free throws it into the cat’s bowl.  One point, she thinks.

Hazel’s legs feel weaker.  She must sit before she falls.  So, she slowly makes her way back to the living room, the cat just steps behind her, and plunks down into her chair, with bone-weary breath.  An old western plays in the background, like a friend carrying on with a conversation long after your mind has drifted elsewhere.  The western doesn’t reach Hazel, but the sound is comforting.  Hazel closes her eyes.  Rests.

Not today, Russell?  She asks to no one.  Then when, Russell?  She asks to to the air.  She asks to the dust particles floating in the stale air, and the old cat riddled with tumors, purring near her feet.       

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

Serves 8-10

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 + 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup apple cider

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 unsweetened apple butter (store-bought or homemade)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs at room temperature

Ingredients for topping:

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Generously butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.  Grab a large bowl and add the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk together until combined.  Set aside.   In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sugar, apple cider, oil, apple butter, vanilla, and eggs.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until well combined.  Pour batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan, spreading the mixture evenly with a spatula.

Bake for about 50 minutes (check at 45 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   Transfer pan to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  While cake is cooling, melt butter.  In a small bowl mix together raw sugar and cinnamon.  Invert cake onto wire rack.  Brush cake with melted butter and then sprinkle sugar/cinnamon all over the top of the cake.   Serve and enjoy!

*Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.*

5 Unique Fall Desserts

Looking for the best of two sweet worlds in one pie?  Check out Food & Wine’s apple cider cream pie.

Apple pie in cookie form?  Yes!  Head to An Italian In My Kitchen for the recipe.

Celebrating a fall birthday soon?  Head to Adventures in Cooking and make Eva’sapple spice cake with salted caramel frosting.

There is nothing I love more in the fall than apple crisp with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and then I stumbled on this recipe.  Yes, please!

I am from New England and yet I have never made a New England Apple Cider Cake.  A Family Feast’s recipe is now on my must make list.  Check it out!

 

Strawberry Buttermilk Birthday Cake + 5 Unique Birthday Cake Links

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Wilson May didn’t care much for birthdays.  And yet he acquiesced, celebrating with family, [family he didn’t care much to see], at the request of his pushy daughter, year after year, cake after cake.

Why the hell does my daughter need to mark every goddamn birthday? He thought while his phone vibrated in his pocket.  It was her.  [Who else would it be?]  Calling to remind him about his birthday celebration later in the day.

As if Wilson needed a reminder that yet another year had passed.

He silenced the vibrating phone in his pocket [God damn phone.] just as the nurse he dreaded seeing pushed open the door to the long, stark hallway he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to walk down.

Wilson May?  Wilson May?  the nurse said, her squirrel like eyes darting around the waiting room.  [Did her nose wiggle too? Is she sniffing me out?]

Wilson removed his cheap, cockeyed reading glasses placing them in the 3 button placket of his pink polo shirt, adjusted his now wrinkled pants and debated leaving.  In 20 minutes he could be home.  Alone.  A beer in hand and sitting in the sun on a large wooden deck only one rocking chair occupied, where he’d have more time to think about what was next for his tottery body, his tired soul. [If the pain dissipated? Golf everyday. Gone entirely? Travel, fucking, drinking.  Wilson as he imagined himself 25 years ago.]

And yet, Wilson’s inner thoughts never matched his outer life.  For the past sixty-six years he had lived and loved two very different lives.  The life the outside world saw, a life well-lived [to others], consisted of obligations, dependability…sometimes love varied immensely from the impractical, reckless and solitary life Wilson imagined daily.

[At times becoming so engrossed in the romanticized version of his life, Wilson was unreachable. Lost to his castle in the air, his black coffee growing cold in his large, hairy hands, the local paper left unread.  His now ex-wife called them staring spells.  Wilson knew better.]

Wilson May…Wilson…?  He sensed a bit of hostility in the squirrel nurse.  He had aggravated her now and in turn she would likely be less gentle with him.  Tit for tat, like so many relationships he once knew.

Squirrel nurse surveyed the room one last time before giving up on Wilson.  The beige door gradually closed behind her, as if allowing chance to take over.

Wilson stared straight ahead, unmoving.  No decisions would be made today.

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Strawberry Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Cake and frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

Italian pastry cream recipe adapted from An Italian in My Kitchen

makes 1, 3 layer, 8-inch round cake

Serves 10-12

Ingredients for cake:

4 eggs at room temperature

2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 + 1/4 cups buttermilk, well shaken

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

3 cups cake flour, sifted

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup or 2 sticks, unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

Ingredients for strawberry compote:

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup sugar (a bit more if strawberries are not sweet)

1 tablespoon orange juice

pinch of kosher salt

Ingredients for Italian pastry cream:

1 cup + 1/2 cup whole milk

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier

2 + 1/2 tablespoons flour

Ingredients for whipped vanilla frosting:

1/4 cup whole milk

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

good pinch of kosher salt

few drops of food coloring if desired

Directions for cake:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Grab 3, 8 inch round cake pans and butter the bottoms and sides of each pan.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and dust with flour.  Tap out an excess flour.  Set aside

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, 1/4 cup of buttermilk and vanilla in a large measuring cup or small bowl.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Reduce the speed to low and add the cold, cubed butter, one piece at a time, leaving a few second in between each addition.  Continue to mix on low until butter  is well blended and looks like wet sand or cornmeal.

Next add the remaining buttermilk (1 cup) and mix on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.  On low-speed, slowly add the egg mixture.  Increase speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and fold the batter once or twice.

Divide the batter evenly among the three pans.  Bake two of the pans until the cake is golden and springs back gently when  touched in the middle or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a couple of crumbs, about 25-28 minutes.  Cool cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan to cool completely.   Next, bake the last pan for 25-28 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.

Directions for strawberry compote:

Combine 1 cup of strawberries, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the berries start to break down, about 10 minutes.

Lower the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  The compote is ready when it covers  the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Using a handheld masher,  mash the strawberries until juicy.  Add remaining fresh strawberries.  Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

**The compote can be made up to 3 days ahead of time!**

Directions for Italian pastry cream:

Heat milk in medium sauce pan over low heat.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Using another sauce pan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until combined.  Next add the vanilla and flour.  Slowly pour in warm milk and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly and stir in the Grand Marnier.  Pour into glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

**Pastry cream can be made several days in advance.  Store in air-tight container with plastic wrap covering the surface of the cream and refrigerate.**

Directions for whipped vanilla frosting

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until very pale and creamy, about 8 minutes.  Add sifted confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt and milk.  Mix on low-speed for about a minute.  Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5-6 minutes.  Add food coloring, if desired.  Frosting will be very light and creamy.

Assembly Time!!!

Place first cake layer on cake stand, face up.  Using a pastry bag, filled with the Italian pastry cream, pipe a two-inch circle around the perimeter of the cake layer.  This will keep the compote from leaking out.  Add a few spoonfuls of the strawberry compote to the center of the cake layer.  Spread the compote just to the pastry cream.  Add your next cake layer, pressing gently in place.  Again, pipe a two inch circle around the perimeter of the cake layer.  Add the remaining strawberry compote to the center of the cake layer.  Spread the compote just to the pastry cream.  Next, add the final cake layer, pressing gently into place.  Cover the entire cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once the cake is chilled add the whipped vanilla frosting  to the entire cake, decorating however you wish.   Flowers, sprinkles anything goes!  Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

**Cake can be made 2 days in advance.  Be sure to keep it refrigerated.**   

5 Unique Birthday Cake Links

Looking for a special gluten-free cake for the chocolate lover in your life?  Head to the Tartelette blog for Helene’s flourless chocolate cake with salted butter caramel sauce.

Take advantage of fresh summer berries and make Camille Styles’ summer berry ice cream cake.

My husband loves chocolate chip cookies so I may need to make him Pastry Affair’s cookie dough cake for his next birthday.  Check it out!

Key lime pie in birthday cake form?  Yes it exists.  Head to Bakerella for the recipe.

My birthday was last week.  I’m thinking I’ll take some me time and celebrate a new year alone with a fork and this angel food cake.

Chocolate Cake Pan Cake + 5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

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I think of her most often when the lilac bushes bloom in May.  I inhale their sweet floral scent deeply and see her as she was: short, dark curly hair framing her square face, beautiful brown eyes shining below thick eyebrows; strong hips sitting wide, above long skinny legs.  Her easy smile.

I kneel on the damp ground, searching for a four-leaf clover while blades of grass, small stones and drying mud stamp petrified impressions on my bony knees.  Looking haphazardly for luck, searching, minute after minute, for a clover windfall.  She walks by, the white rubber soles of her navy Keds grass-stained, her khaki chino shorts a bit stained with the morning’s bacon grease spatters and long tan arms brushing past her hips as she moves towards the grape vines and lilac bushes.  She pops a grape into her mouth, smiles. She pulls a pair of shears out of her back pocket and cuts a few clusters of lilacs, gathering them in her tanned, slightly wrinkled hands.  I love her absolutely, as only a child is able to love.  She is the great love of my life.

“What are you looking for, Kel?”

“A lucky clover.”

“You won’t find any luck around here.”  She says with a quick laugh and a half hearted smile.  [Decades later I will understand the multiple meanings of that one powerful sentence.]

Thirty years later, hip to hip, we inch across the driveway to my father’s car.  I carefully hold her twiggy arms.  Veins, tendons, bones now evident underneath her bruised paper-thin skin.  The weight of her body leaning against mine is barely felt.

[Time passes.  Time is an unsparing critic.]  

I want a chocolate cake for my birthday,” she says out of the blue.  I kiss her on the cheek and breathe in her powdery scent, hoping some of her smell will latch onto my shirt.  

“Ok, I’ll make you a chocolate cake.” I say as I ease her into the passenger seat pulling the seat belt across her concave chest, buckling her in like I do with own my children.  She smiles, turns away from me and stares straight ahead through the bug splattered windshield.  I know she is moving away from me, letting go.  She knows I understand this.  And yet, come August, with some luck, I’ll make her a chocolate cake.

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Chocolate Cake Pan Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Original Cake Pan Cake

whipped ganache recipe barely adapted from allrecipes.com

serves 8-10

Cake Ingredients:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk ( I used 2%)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 inch square pan and set aside.  (You may also use a 9 inch round pan.)

Place dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Pour the  batter into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.  Begin checking the cake around 22 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack.

While the cake cools make the whipped chocolate ganache frosting.

Fluffy Whipped Ganache Ingredients:

9 ounces of semisweet  chocolate, chopped or use chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the heavy cream in a sauce over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth and shiny.  Cool the ganache until thick.  (I let it sit on our counter at room temperature for a couple of hours.)  Once cool whip the ganache using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment until very light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over cake.  Slice the cake and serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!  (Cake will last up to two days stored in air-tight container at room temperature.)

5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

Treat your crazy mom to a crazy cake: strawberry pazzo cake with herbed creme fraiche. Pazzo means crazy in Italian which describes this cake well; balsamic vinegar drizzled over a sweet strawberry cake.  I’m intrigued!

Speaking of strawberries, check out my recipe for a cold oven strawberry pound cake mom is sure to love.  Or head to My Name Is Yeh for Molly’s cardamom vanilla cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting.  I’m drooling.

Looking for a simple yet delicious cake recipe?  Head to Food 52 for their olive oil cake recipe.

Don’t feel like baking? Check out Baker’s Royale lemon ice box cake.  Yum!

Meyer Lemon Upside Down Poppy Seed Cake + 5 Must Try Upside Down Cakes!

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I nearly missed these smooth skinned beauties neatly stacked like a pyramid of little suns, nestled between the overpriced organic lemons and limes.  I blame my 3-year-old for the near miss.  Grocery shopping with him is like wrestling a bear while trying to maintain some composure and getting everything on my list.  A nearly impossible feat! And yet somehow, out of the corner of my eye or the eyes that exist on the back of my head, I noticed the plump, canary yellow orbs.  I grabbed one, rubbed my thumb across its glossy skin and held it to my nose.  Sweet, floral, bright; a perfect contrast to the heavy, cheese and meat laced comfort food coming out of my kitchen this time of year.

Unsure of what to do with them or the $2.99 a pound price tag, I placed a few in my cart anyway; picked up my 3-year-old who was elbow deep in the organic (oh c’mon) chocolate malt balls candy bin, which, by the way, is oddly placed in between the produce and fancy cheese, (another WTF moment in a long month of WTF moments); and carried on.

I admired the little lemons sitting in our fruit bowl on our sometimes sticky, sometimes clean, kitchen island for a few days before deciding to make an upside down cake.  Sexier recipes for a lemon curd, preserved lemons, cupcakes and pastry cream enticed me briefly before I settled on this 1920s throwback.  Something about taking an old-fashion dessert and modernizing it with Meyer lemons and poppy seeds appealed to me post inauguration.

So I got to work thinly slicing a few lemons, melting butter and sugar together to create a syrupy, caramel like topping and carefully placing the lemons on top of the delicious goo. Next, I made a butter cake batter adding Meyer lemon zest and poppy seeds which made it taste exactly like my Mom’s famous lemon poppy-seed tea cake.  Fifty-five minutes later I had a tender, sweet, subtly tart and modern upside down cake.  I hope this cake brightens your January as much as it did ours.

Meyer Lemon Upside Down Poppy Seed Cake

recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated Fresh Fruit Upside Down Cake

Serves 8 -10

Ingredients for topping:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

3 Meyer lemons, sliced 1/4 inch thick, seeds removed

Directions:

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round pan thoroughly.  Set aside.  Using a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add both brown sugars , stir and cook until the mixture foams, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Pour the butter/sugar mixture into your prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan with a spatula.  Arrange the lemon slices in concentric circles.  Set aside.

Ingredients for cake:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cornmeal

1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of 1 Meyer lemon

2/3 cup of milk

Directions for cake:

Place oven rack in the lower middle position and pre-heat your oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter at medium speed.  Slowly add the sugar followed by the lemon zest.  Beat until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and vanilla, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula once or twice.  Next, reduce the speed to the lowest setting and add the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating until both are incorporated into the batter.  Mix until the batter just becomes smooth.

In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in one-quarter of the egg whites to lighten the batter.  Then fold in the remaining egg whites until they are completely incorporated.  Pour the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula.  Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.

Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.  Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan.  Place a serving plate over the pan, hold in place and flip so the cake is now sitting on the platter.  Remove cake pan.  If some lemon slices stick to the bottom of the cake pan, remove them and place on top of the cake.  Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

**Cake will last two days stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature.**

5 Must Check Our Upside Down Cakes

Craving  more citrus in your life?  Head to Broma Bakery for an upside down winter citrus cake that is sure to brighten any January day.

Before pear season is gone, make Fix Feast Flair’s cardamom pear upside down cake.

Love grapefruit?  Check out Food on Fifth’s recipe for a grapefruit upside down cake.

Spring will come and when it does make Martha’s plum-blueberry upside down cake.  This is on my must make list.

I love all things banana flavored so I need to make David Lebovitz’s banana upside down cake, knowing my picky nine-year old will refuse to eat it.  Banana hater.

Pina Colada Cake + 5 Boozy Cake Links!

 

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Not bad, she thought, regarding her reflection in the full length mirror of a small hotel room she shared with her husband and three children.   The navy blue, white polka dot, full piece bathing suit fresh off the rack from Macy’s hugged her hips and small breasts, her smooth, pale Nordic skin almost pearlescent in the bright, Bahamian light.  As she turned to grab her ten dollar, drugstore sunglasses and scratchy hotel towel, she noticed her profile, pronounced in the warm light. She tenderly rubbed the soft space between her hip bones, a slight bulge, her body forever three months pregnant, abdominal muscles long gone; this space was once the home of her three children.

[Babies too large for her small frame and yet she willed herself to carry them.  And when they tore her apart, departing her body and entering the world, she felt nothing but relief.  Love would come…later.]

The family trip to the Grand Bahama was her idea.  He, her half present husband, the worst kind, acquiesced.  Anything to stop her nagging.  Anything to keep her questions at bay.  His soul’s sin would be revealed many years later.  An affair: yes.  But his real sin: insecurity.

[ A soul with a hole so cavernous no drink or woman could fill.]

So, when she found herself at the poolside bar, admiring the bartender’s dark brown eyes, golden skin, silvery hair and stainless white teeth, was she appalled by her desire for him?  No.  Like driving a car with a low tire, the air slowly, but surely escaping, something was amiss in her marriage.  This she she felt in her milky skin, her blue veins, her raging claret blood…her bones. 

She ordered a pina colada.  The bartender smiled, got to work.  She watched him: tan, capable hands adding ice, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum to a blender; a bit of sweat twinkled on his brow and above his hairless lip in the mid-day sun.  

[Briefly, she thought of his lips on hers. This fantasy quickly dissipated when she noticed a gorgeous, buxom, blonde saddling up to the bar. She is who he wants.  Or, so she thought.]  

When he handed her the pina colda, complete now with a fresh pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry, he also gave her his number on a white cocktail napkin.  Ha!  Cheeks flush and gitty with surprise, she paid him.  After taking a long drink, she smiled, stood, turned and walked away. The cocktail napkin remained on the bar where he placed it, her sweating pina colada sitting directly on top of the scribbled numbers.  Nothing said, no door left ajar.  Condensation from glass would make the numbers bleed into each other.  And this memory of being seen again, fresh, would bleed into other memories of unexplored men handing her a drink.

She found her family sitting by the pool, her handsome husband with a beer in has hand chatting with their strawberry-haired, freckled faced boy.  His favorite, his only.  The girls, both husky, pretty tomboys, were huddled together on a chaise lounge, dripping pool water.  The older girl had found forty dollars in the hot-tub.  Such luck, she thought!  As the girl held the wet twenties overhead, victorious, her sister decided since they were a family who shared, they should share everything, including this serendipitous loot.  They laughed, not yet knowing, too much and not enough would be shared in the decades to come.

Pina Colada Cake

A moist cake studded with fresh pineapple and covered in a sweet rum glaze

recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 8

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces of coconut oil, at room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup cream of coconut (This is not coconut milk.  I found it in the Mexican food section of our local grocery store.) Shake well before measuring.

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, strained, juice reserved (from a can in juice not syrup)

Ingredients to brush over cake:

2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice

Ingredients for glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.  Lightly butter and flour parchment paper.  Tap  out excess flour.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and coconut oil at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Add rum.  Next, add cream of coconut.  The batter will look curdled.  Don’t worry! It will come back together once you add the flour.

Add half of dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl with a spatula, before adding the other half.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped pineapple.

The batter will be thick.  Spread it evenly into your prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan, on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto the wire rack.  Remove parchment paper.

While the cake is still hot, brush it with reserved pineapple juice.

While cake is cooling, make glaze.  Grab a small bowl and add powdered sugar and salt.  Stir in milk and rum.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour glaze into middle of cake and spread to the edges with an offset spatula or butter knife.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for 20 minutes until glaze is set.  Cake is best the day it is made.  Leftovers, stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, will last for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Boozy Cake Links!

Still feel the winter chill in your neck of the woods? Warm yourself up with Food & Wine’s Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake.  I’m guessing it will hit the spot.

I love a good mojito.  Olive’s mojito cake is on my must make immediately list.  Yum!

Don’t wait until next St. Patty’s day to make Spoon Fork Bacon’s spicy chocolate stout cake with simple peanut butter frosting.  This combo sounds delicious!

Bubba loves a good margarita and never turns down a piece of cake.  I think it’s time to make him Pastry Affair’s boozy margarita cake.

My mom loves all things coconut so this Mother’s Day I may just make her Beth Cake’s triple coconut rum cake.  Coconut + rum equals a tropical vacation in a bite!

 

Apple Yogurt Cake + 5 Quick Cake Links!

ayc1252An apple a day keeps whatever ails you away.  A good red wine, chocolate anything, salty something, cold beer and cupcakes also help..me.  Apples are abundant now and I can’t get enough of them.  I eat one everyday after lunch, as well as, whatever slices the kids leave behind.  In an effort to consume as many apples as possible before they go out of season, I added them to a traditional yogurt cake.

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I tore the original cake recipe out of a Bon Appétit magazine almost 4 years ago and taped it inside my little black book recipe book.  (Before Pinterest or this blog I used a pen, a real pen, and wrote down recipes in a little black notebook. Crazy, I know.)  I made the original cake a few times, mainly because my daughter requested it.  She calls it the plain cake which is a perfect description.  Plain and simple.  Perfectly moist and the just right kind of sweet.  So, why mess with a good thing?

The damn apples were begging me to use them.  On this cake…with some raw sugar sprinkled on top.  A little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon zest season the deliciously basic batter.  Oh and lets not forget about the Greek yogurt.  I couldn’t taste it, but knowing it’s in there made me feel healthy.  Really, it’s ok to have a third piece of cake.  The 3/4 cups of whole milk Greek yogurt, that’s protein girl!  Eat up!

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So I did.  Or we did.  Either way, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours.  I call that a hit.  Enjoy!

Apple Yogurt Cake

serves 8

recipe adapted from Bon Appétit June 2012

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar  (The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar.  If you prefer a sweeter cake add 1 cup of sugar.  The 3/4 cup of sugar made the cake plenty sweet.  It’s really up to you!)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 baking apple of your choice, sliced thin

1/4 cup raw sugar to sprinkle on sliced apples

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Spray a standard loaf pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray.  Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, kosher salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl rub sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar feels like damp sand.  Add Greek yogurt, canola oil, eggs and vanilla extract.  Whisk until well blended.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth over the top.  Add sliced apples, pushing them just slightly into the batter so they will stick.  Arrange apple in a pattern or something pretty.  Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake.  Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Slice and serve.  Cake will last stored in an air-tight container or covered in plastic wrap, at room temperature,  for up to 3 days.  Enjoy!

5 Quick Cake Links!

Looking for an easy lemon cake recipe? Head to Willow Bird Baking for Julie’s quick lemon-iced yellow cake.  I really wish this cake would just appear on my kitchen counter.  Magic!

Chocolate cake in the less than an hour? Sounds great.  NYT has the recipe for you.

Apple cider doughnut cake? Yes, it exists! Katie at the Kitchen Door has the mouth-watering recipe for you.

Cake or quick bread? Why decide? Make one that tastes like both!  Head to Not Without Salt for Ashley’s chopped apple cake recipe.

Cranberry season is on the way.  Check out my cranberry maple breakfast cake: a cake that is delicious anytime of day.

Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cakes + 5 Nectarine Recipes!

 

rnc1022dThe temperature dropped just slightly in the Boston area, so I turned on my oven.  Time to measure, sift and whisk.  Time for some flour on  the counter, maybe some in my hair; softened butter, room temperature eggs and sugar, lots of it.  Time to mix it up until just combined.  Time to bake.  My hiatus from baking left me wandering and unsatisfied.  I made ice cream, fruit crisps, cold Israeli cous cous salads and Alice Water’s potato salad.  I utilize the veggies from weekly CSA as if the end of days were near.  And yet, something was missing: my oven.

When I came across these beauties at the market, I knew they required more than just a crisp or cobbler.  They deserved to be nestled in a butter and sugar batter.  Showered with raw sugar; baked until they turned into delicate crumbed butter and sugar cakes, all just the size of a 6 ounce ramekins, a sweet and personal treat.

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Baking with Julia provided the inspiration and I ran with it.  I swapped out the plums for nectarines, orange zest for lime zest and added a healthy sprinkling of raw sugar.  Twenty-five minutes later these sweet little nectarine cakes were ready for us to eat.

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We ate them without the addition of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream; they were delicious.  The nectarine caramelized just slightly.  The cake was delicate and light with an unexpected, slight tartness from the lime.  When I make them again, I’ll add a dollop of unsweetened whip cream and maybe a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.  A creamy, cold liquid is a great way to ensure every last crumb is scooped up.

Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cakes

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Baking with Julia’s Oven Roasted Plum Cakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons, packed, light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup buttermilk

6 large nectarines, halved and pitted

1/4 cup raw sugar for sprinkling

Cooking spray or melted butter for coating ramekins

Special Equipment: 8 ramekins

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly coat the inside of the ramekins with cooking spray or melted butter. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more minutes.  Add one egg and beat on high until the egg is incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl and add the second egg.  Beat until incorporated, about 30 more seconds.  Add lime zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat on high for another minute.

Lower the speed of your mixer and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix for less than a minute. Stop the mixer and finish combining the ingredients with a spatula. Do not over mix!

Assembly

Drop about 2 tablespoons of cake batter into each ramekin. Place half of a nectarine, cut side up, into each ramekin. Push down just a little. You don’t want the cake to rise over the nectarine, although some of mine did.  Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on each nectarine.  Place ramekins on baking sheet and put on the center rack of your oven.  Bake from about 25 minutes, but start checking them at 20 minutes. When the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, they are ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the ramekins for 10 minutes.

Once cool, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Lift the cakes out with a small spatula or butter knife. You want to keep them right side up. If this seems too hard, turn the ramekins upside down, lightly tap out the cakes and then place the cakes right side up. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature. A little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream is a great addition to these cakes, but not necessary. Enjoy!

**Cakes can be kept for up to a day stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.**

Don’t let summer pass without checking out these 5 fantastic nectarine recipes!

Looking for fresh twist on a tart or buckle recipe? Head to Smitten Kitchen for Deb’s nectarine brown butter buckle or nectarine, mascarpone gingersnap tart.  Yum!

Martha’s nectarine cupcakes are on my must make list.

If it’s just too hot to turn on the oven, how about making nectarine ice cream?

If you want an interesting twist on your next caprese salad, head to Shutterbean for Tracy’s nectarine caprese salad.  This looks like summer!